Black Lives Matter

June 18, 2020


At this most difficult and disturbing of times, we wish to share with you our thoughts about racism and the roles we can play as educators, scholars, and professionals. 

We must start by calling out racism, speaking out for justice, and stepping in when we witness racist words or deeds. To be silent or passive is to be complicit. 

We must listen to our students, and to our critics as well as our supporters, to ensure that we are working in service of all.

  1. Black Lives Matter. We state in no uncertain terms that we condemn racism and that Black Lives Matter.
  2. We are outraged by the horrific killings of George Floyd and countless other black men and women. These and other acts of violence committed against African Americans and people of color reveal the entrenched racism that continues to afflict our society today.
  3. Racism and anti-blackness suffuse our society at all levels, and as teachers and scholars of architecture we must acknowledge the role architecture has played in enabling and perpetuating these injustices.
  4. In this historic moment, we must confront the fact that we as teachers have fallen short in explicitly calling out the connections between racism and the built environment. We must acknowledge historical and current inequities in order to work with students to create buildings and places that resist racism and promote social justice.


  1. As members of the faculty, we hold primary responsibility for the following areas:
  • Curriculum and teaching: We must address racism and social injustice as fundamental issues across all levels and subjects, including design, history, and technology.
  • Classroom, studio, and campus environment: We must explicitly support black students and other marginalized students in all settings.
  • Scholarship and professional development: We must develop research and mentorship programs to empower our students who are black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).
  • Peer mentoring: As faculty, we must support and mentor our colleagues to help one another become more effective educators.
  • Engagement with diverse communities: Our research topics, the speakers and critics we invite to campus, our outreach to underserved populations, and the assignments we produce can help us address racial injustice in the built environment. We must engage with people inside and outside Cal Poly who can help us understand and combat racism in our work, and we must reach out to communities that we have not served sufficiently in the past. 
  • Advising, mentoring, and supporting a diverse BIPOC student body: Although the faculty has no direct control over admissions for first-year students, we must expand our recruitment efforts to encourage more applications from communities and schools in which architecture historically has not been a career option.
  • Recruiting and supporting transfer students: The faculty controls acceptances for transfer students, and we must expand our recruitment and support of black students and other marginalized students.
  • All students, faculty, and staff must feel that they have a place of security and freedom in the Architecture Department. In this statement and at this particular time, we wish to focus on anti-black racism, but we also acknowledge that we must do more to support other marginalized groups, such as indigenous students, students of color, differently abled students, and LGBTQI+ students.
  1. There are other areas where we do not have explicit, contractual power, but in which we will strive to influence the decisions of the university, college, and department through advocacy and advising:
  • Hiring: The faculty plays an advisory role in the hiring of new faculty members, and we must recruit and support people who will better represent the California population and who will bring expertise in social justice issues.
  • First-year admissions: The university controls admissions for first-year students, but through outreach and advising, the faculty can seek to expand the number of African American applicants.
  • Financial support: The faculty has no direct influence on tuition, fees, and financial aid decisions, all of which are disproportionately important for BIPOC students. However, with the support of the CAED Development office, faculty can help cultivate private donors who support scholarships, studios, and projects that improve equity and inclusion. 
  • University responsibility: University leadership should lead by example, and we must act to hold accountable the Cal Poly administration when it fails to take direct action against racist acts.
  1. Rhetoric without action is empty, but to implement these changes will require time and consideration. As we continue to develop our plan and implement changes, we will work with the CAED Student Diversity and Inclusivity committee, with other student organizations, and will solicit input from all students.

APPENDIX: Initial Proposals

As a start, we list below plans to address racism in the Architecture Department. Throughout the process, we will update and make public our timelines and progress, and we invite comment on all of these proposals.

1. Initial proposal for curriculum reform:

  • Starting summer 2020, curriculum assessment and development of a plan for integration of race and space into all curricular areas.

2. Initial proposal for scholarship and professional development:

  • Support BIPOC students on campus through faculty mentoring including collaborating with students on research and scholarship. 
  • Faculty will participate in continuing education on race related issues in teaching, and in the discipline of Architecture, both on campus and with outside organizations such as the National Conference on Diversity, Race, and Learning (NCDRL).  

 3. Initial proposal for engaging thought leaders and pedagogical change:

  • 2020-2021 lecture series and symposium dedicated to social justice in the Built Environment
  • Support CAED Diversity and Inclusivity Student Committee by better attending events planned by them, and integrating these events into classes

4. Initial proposal for advising, mentoring, and supporting a diverse BIPOC student body:

  • Develop K-12 partnerships by offering workshops and peer-to-peer mentoring to foster interest in Cal Poly Architecture.
  • Recruit students from underserved high schools and community colleges in California. We will also evaluate the curriculum requirements for transfer students and work to reduce barriers to access to Cal Poly. 

 In Solidarity,

Cal Poly Architecture Department Faculty and Staff

Robert Arens  Andrew Goodwin JoAnn Moore Umut Toker
Casey Benito Alexander Hirsig Clare Olsen Carmen Trudell
Angela Bracco Doug Jackson Brian Osborn Jermaine Washington
Ryan Brockett  Thomas Jones Margaret Pedone Emily White
Kelle Brooks  Ansgar Killing Stephen Phillips Stacey White
Mark Cabrinha  Margaret Kirk Jeff Ponitz Keith Wiley
Don Choi  Karen Lange Zahra Rasti Greg Wynn
Dale Clifford  Michael Lucas Jonathan Reich Kathleen Bracamonte
Tom di Santo Jeremy Magner Bryan Shields Susan Waterman
Thomas Fowler  Padma Maitland Jennifer Shields and others
Brent Freeby  Margot McDonald Sandy Stannard  

signatories last updated 06.23.20

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